9th June: GMC’s moment of reckoning
Golden Jubilee: a nostalgic occasion, a day of relating & getting related to!
FLASHBACK BY DR.JAVID IQBAL
Golden Jubilees are nostalgic occasions, wherein you relate and get related to. The past is reviewed, achievements re-assessed, a pledge to fill in the lacunas if any made, so that the institutional march can go on. Whatever might be shortfalls in the institutional build-up, the achievements of Kashmir’s premier medical institution are hard to overlook by anyone, the exceptions could be ones with jaundiced outlook. Pros abound, cons may not be ruled out rather thoroughly assessed in GMC’s moment of reckoning!
The inception as the fifties turned to sixties in the century gone by just a decade back was the pledge redeemed. The pledge of institutionalizing higher education, of which medicine-its study and practice remained the prime motive, apart from moving in other streams. The university to look after the nitty gritty of academia was already functioning for over a decade, as the ‘Government Medical College’ Srinagar, known by its acronym [GMC] became its prestigious affiliate.
As the institutional march ensued, Kashmir could boost of some eminent physicians and surgeons in business. The clinical side was thus well covered; however the initial years entailed pre-clinical study-the basic medical sciences, where the shortfall to give it a kick start was apparent. The structure of human body, its functioning-anatomy and physiology constitutes the chapter of genesis in medical studies. The academics to impart lessons in basics were not available locally. The country wide hunt to obtain the best and foremost in the field was launched. In strode the tough task master-Prof. Kahli-the physiologist, a man un-compromising on quality of education. You had to have the wider view of the subject, the authors like Samson Wright to live with. Short cuts like Chaterji’s treatise on physiology did not find favour, in fact downright condemnation. Prof. Kahli’s ‘Quiz’ was a classic in preparing students for the tough tests ahead. Every student got the individual treatment, or may we say assessment. Of course the idea was to combine it in a holistic approach to provide batch after batch of quality doctors.
Anatomy department was graced by the southerner-the eminent and amiable Prof. Aiyar. His smile was infectious, he won over all and sundry by his amiability. While as Prof. Kahli was a tough disciplinarian, Prof. Aiyar hardly needed to be one. You would get on his right side on your own, no prodding was needed. He could disarm you, if you were naughty. He had won laurels as an embryologist, hence widely respected. Prof. Kahli and Prof. Aiyar were not only in business of training students, they were training teachers too-the future custodians of medical studies. In the anatomy department we had some interesting demonstrators. Dr. Tahira Khanam who’s ‘Khanam’s Trust’ is now a brand name in educational and health care was in the department. Dr. Makhan Lal Ghasi with his wide body frame, Dr. Safaya-mild and soft spoken, later to take over as the top functionary in country’s premier medical institution-AIIMS, Delhi and last but not the least-the boisterous Dr. Aslam Qazi. With Dr. Aslam, you could expect lively movements, ever and always. Years later he adorned Anatomy department of Tehran Medical College, where we renewed our association. In physiology department, Dr. Shah was getting his physiological skills polished by Prof. Kahli. Anatomy and Physiology take up the initial two years.
In the third and fourth year we were face with Prof. Goyal in the pathology department, as we got to study the changes in the cells and tissues of human body in the disease process. And to impart lessons in the pharmaceutical range to treat the changes with, we had Prof. Gujral, who was incidentally the Principal following the very first-Col. Murthy. Prof. Gujral implanted Dr. Hamid Fazli in the department, who served the department for long. Later, I renewed my fruitful association with him in Libya, during his stint in Tripoli Medical College. Prof. Gujral was moving out as we were moving in, the GMC was getting its third principal-the first Kashmiri to take over-Col.Kaul. He was also HOD of medical department with an eminent team, we were fortunate to be trained by. The legendary Prof. Ali Jan, the well known and widely connected-Prof. Naseer Ahmad Shah were sons of soil and we had Prof. Verma. Fifty years from those early days, their lessons are remembered, so firmly were they imprinted on memory.
Prof. Ali Jan and Prof. Naseer Ahmad Shah had wide societal links. Recently I was wonderstruck when an old hand in politics related to me an episode, wherein some political bigwigs entrusted Prof.Jan with drafting an important political document. It stands related that the legal legend, the constitutional expert, the old political hand of Kashmir-Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg could hardly believe that this could come from a doctor in medicine. Such was the diversity of Prof. Jan-the legend carries on, as more and more water flows down Vitasta/Veth or Jhelum. He is remembered, related, and renowned to the extent that medicine and Prof. Jan sound synonymous in the Kashmiri context. Precisely in that context, he could easily be placed in the galaxy of famous Kashmiris. Scores would attest to the fact in the nook and corner of the vale.
Prof. Naseer Ahmad Shah was a progressive in an era when such a belief was in ascendance. The society as a whole had seen such a regression that the ones with intellect could not resist getting into progressive realm, though from the orthodox and traditional, it entailed charges of moving away from the established order. We would often have the surprise of legends like Balraj Sahni striding into our college lawns. The great actor once surprised me by moving close as I was standing by a railing and asking ‘Youngman, could you guide me to Dr. Naseer’. I could hardly believe that I was face to face with a Bollywood legend. I did the needful; Balraj Sahni was progressive in his beliefs, one amongst many Prof Nasser Ahmad Shah jelled with. As he took over the principalship from Col. Koul, he got his progressive thinking into annals of GMC, without forcing beliefs. Occasional reservations apart, he was respected, loved too by many who got to know him closely. The geniality of spirit in his overall make-up was apparent. With Prof. Girja Dhar, the gynecological and obstetric face of GMC by his side, the couple had a great innings. They remain very much in our midst, aging with grace and dignity!
In the surgical department-Prof. Gh. Rasool, Prof. Girdhari Lal, Prof. Bhan were locals, in addition Prof. Parmanick was from outside the state. Prof. Gh. Rasool in addition to his duties as HOD surgery catered to administrative needs of SMHS hospital, the hospital affiliated to GMC, which formed our clinical base. His booming voice struck terror. You could not get on the wrong side of him and escape punishment. Punishment for host of offences-smoking in hospital especially in corridors, moving without aprons, while as neck-ties and formal dresses were appreciated. The gene culture had not taken effect, though bell bottoms and later drain pipes were in offing. The teachers were institutions; we looked up to in chiseling our rough edges. Formally and decently dressed, they led by example. The teacher–student relationship was ideal to the extent of knowing the leanings of teachers. You could always expect a question on thyroid gland or burn, usually both in Prof. Gh. Rasool’s question paper. Favouritism was out of question, students were treated at par, in an even handed manner.
The senior professors soon had young, able colleagues as Dr. Allaqaband; Dr. Zahoor joined the department of medicine and his wife Dr. Mahmooda Khan-the surgeon joined the surgical department along with Dr. Sikand from Delhi or Punjab. They were all skilled hands. As the peers started leaving, they moved in to fill the vacant slots, serving the institution with distinction in upgrading the academics as well as administrative functioning. Prof. Allaqaband especially has taken up the societal role with relish, enhancing the image of the profession by moving beyond the confines of profession in endure to fill in societal lacunas. He stands tall in the medical community in Kashmir, as well as in the widening civil society in Kashmir.
GMC continues to be the flag bearer, as other medical institutions - bigger and much more comprehensive like SKIMS came up in decades after its inception. The products of GMC continue to make a name worldwide-US, UK and Middle East, apart from cities across the length and breadth of India!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
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Lastupdate on : Fri, 8 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 8 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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